Temporarily negotiated space

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When a cell phone user freely talks in an enclosed private space occupied by many others, the cell phone user must perform boundary maintenance in order to respect the private boundaries of those sharing public space. In a temporarily negotiated private space, boundary maintenance becomes very important to the cell phone user. Whenever entering a stairwell space occupied by a cell phone user, the cell phone user’s voice go down and watched their body turn inwards, a more defined example of how Plant's 'spacemaker' cell phone user acts when liminally transitioning into mobile use. In these instances “the body may be turned away from the world, perhaps towards a corner...as though to protect the conversation” [1] Since the user does not need to be in such a severe stance when no one else is around, my presence in the stairwells caused them to perform face‐saving actions towards me, such as the nonverbal action of protecting the privacy of the self while saving face.

The shape of space forces people to act in a certain way. If the space is too small, the persons in the space might act negatively towards another who is loudly using a cell phone. If a space is large and noisy, the voice of a cell phone user can more easily blend into a background. Manners are beginning to emerge with respect to cell phone use, mostly due to these two issues. The shape of real space impacts how annoying a cell phone user can be to others in the vicinity.


  1. Plant, Sadie. On the Mobile: The effects of mobile telephones on social and individual life. Motorola 2005. 52. http://classes.dma.ucla.edu/Winter03/104/docs/splant.pdf Accessed 8 Aug 2012.